During the first two weeks of February, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) commissioned New South Research to survey 1,000 Jefferson County, Alabama residents on a range of local economic justice and policy issues, including the unionization effort at Amazon. This survey is part of efforts by the Black Worker Initiative at IPS to examine the roots of current labor and worker-led movements in the South and analyze the extent of their support among local communities.
Amazon has Jefferson County facilities in both Birmingham and Bessemer, Alabama. In Bessemer, workers are currently voting on whether to join a union.
IPS’s survey showed the extent of local support for unionization efforts. Overall, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of Jefferson County residents surveyed responded that they would support Amazon workers forming a union.
Support was particularly overwhelming among Black residents. Of those surveyed, 78 percent of all African Americans and 79 percent of African American women support a union at Amazon.
That broad support among African Americans is particularly significant given that 85 percent of Amazon’s workforce at Bessemer is Black, with Black workers leading the union campaign.
“These survey results speak to the extent of local support for the Amazon unionization effort in Jefferson County,” said Marc Bayard, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and director of the Black Worker Initiative at IPS said in a press statement. “Even in the heart of the right-to-work U.S. South, there is amazing potential for an energized and revitalized labor movement to score major victories and improve the lives of Alabama workers. This survey shows that local community members stand with unionization efforts at Amazon facilities in Jefferson County, despite misinformation campaigns. It is deeply encouraging to see so many local community members supporting one of the most momentous labor organizing campaigns in recent decades.”
“The excitement and energy this time is very different inside the facility and out,” said Jennifer Bates, Amazon Union Worker Committee Member, and Amazon BHM1 Associate.
“Workers are throwing down like never before and we’re seeing it in our neighborhoods too. This time we are armed with the knowledge and power not to fall for Amazon’s tricks. We know they lied last time and violated the law, and together we are standing strong. When we have good jobs, our families and our communities thrive. And it’s fantastic to know people on every corner have our backs.”
Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are getting a second chance to vote on unionization, after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the company had interfered with the election process at that site last year. The voting process will continue through March 25.